Back to Habermas Studies page philosophy after Habermas
gary e. davis
  May 21, 2014  

Through the Habermas studies project, I’m primarily interested in promoting understanding of his work.

Yet, the “after” can be important, relative to his great example. What others find important about Habermas is equally important, to me. But my sojourn with Habermas’ work is long running, such that philosophy after Habermas has threefold resonance: in light of, in constructive critique of, and beyond—whatever that can mean, and there’s the appealing point: What can “beyond” accurately mean, then progressively mean? What can that importantly mean for philosophy after metaphysicalism?

A problem for philosophy as such—dimly appreciated, I sometimes think—is that it’s presumably about more than the character of leading minds (i.e., as singularities), the unintegrated array of specialist foci and disputes, and the administration of curriculum. We might feel satisfied to say that the kind of curriculum is a family of historical concerns that have evolved into well-defined specialties within, and the family itself is a curiosity of some sociology of philosophy. That would imply that philosophy has no integrity of its own vis-à-vis other humanities.

So what? What is “Literature” anyway? Is philosophy as such the conceptual topology of it all? What could that be, after The Death of Metaphysics—or, rather, after metaphysicalism, since metaphysics itself is a kind of inquiry, not as such a resultant doctrine?

We have loved the hope of formalization that had to be relativized, but what can be said about the relativity? Is it something about evolution? And evolution is some comprehensive singularity—some Covering Concept, like “consilience” universalized?

The classical, archetypal desire to capture It All remains—not that comprehensive comprehensibility can be captured, but that the appeal belongs to our nature. What can philosophy be about, “essentially”? Such questions don’t go away, if only because they’re so possibly generative, like wanting to know how space-time as such emerges from quantum foam. We may never know, yet learning why this is to be is such a fruitful pathmaking: evolving (as transitive verb) mathematics and Big Science along the way.

If being Habermasian doesn’t imply scholasticism, then the “after” is not a trivial thing. Orienting “the” Question of Philosophy relative to Habermas honors his rightful place in intellectual history (in light of, say, a half century of allegedly post-metaphysicalist philosophy after Heidegger’s “task of thinking” [short video]).

There is progress in Our conceptualization, but its general character is very elusive. The evolving character of conceptual progress may be “Simply” the conceptuality of our evolving, which easily seems to be nonsensical.

Habermas at the end of “The Language Game of Responsibility...” [free PDF] seems to be making a parting grand statement in this spirit (pp. 39-42), which a reader might not anticipate from the prevailing topic. His remarks are necessarily precursory, due to the nature of the conceptuality: to comprehensively comprehend “the genesis of the learning mind itself....The natural genealogy of the mind is a self-referential project; the human mind tries to capture itself [sich einholen] in comprehending itself as a product of nature” (42).

Yet, genesis is about ongoing generativity; its nature is self-enhancive (autopoietic, autogenic), I would argue. Proffering theories of mind is part of Our cultural evolution that advances in the endeavor, prospecting Our future culturality in our projects of explanation.

Representational and reconstructive interest is derivative of Our at-once futural, prospective, and generative interest in advancing the “nature” “of” “mind” through enhancing our capabilities (if not advancing humanity in itself).

This discussion is associated with the “good thinking” area of

Be fair. © 2017, g. e. davis